Dogs are basically and instinctively hunters. Despite this, dogs are the most widely kept pets out of all animals. Many people are actually unaware of the predatory nature of dogs, so this may actually be a startling revelation to dog lovers. Due to the practice of pet keeping throughout centuries, much of the predatory habits and dangers have been somewhat tamed and curbed in the dogs. However, it must not be forgotten that the basic instinct which they are born with, always remains the part of their nature. This side of the dogs’ nature may manifest some or the other time even when they are bred most gently.
Not only this but also, some specific breeds have been so bred that they may exhibit their hunting and aggressive nature such as the German Shepherd as well as the Bull dog. These two types are generally aggressive, but there are also others that exhibit hunting behavior. The grey hounds, for example, are known for their aggressive chase, while the basset hounds are famous for their ability of stalking the prey by the scent. Whatever the case is, one cannot deny that the hunting instinct in most dogs is strong, and may dominate any time. The situation may get dangerous, and any dog owner must know how to avoid and combat such problems.
Your Dog Can Hurt Others or Be Hurt by Other Dogs
One of the most important things to remember is that there are small animals such as rodents, squirrel or cats that may trigger the predatory side in dogs. Any dog of small breed, is also equally in danger of being hunted down by a larger dog breeds. If you are the owner of a small dog, you have to be very careful about it when you take it to place where there are other dogs as well.
If you own a large dog, you must learn to see its predatory signs. You must learn to recognize when it goes in predatory mode, so that your dog doesn’t get involved in any kind of mishap. It is important to remember, that training yourself and your dog for such situations must begin at early stages otherwise it may get out of hand later. An owner must be aware that he will be held responsible for any kind of mishap that may occur with other pets or people.
Preventing Predatory Aggression for Your Dog’s Own Sake
If your dog engages in hunting another pet, or worse, a kid, then the dog will be put down. Hence to keep your animal safe and to save others from your dog, a lot of precautions are required to be taken. You may get off if the other party is forgiving, but you will still lose your dog as it will be taken into animal shelter to keep it away from other animals and people. Zoo keepers, hunters, farmers and poultry farm owners have legal rights to shoot dogs that may harm or kill their animals or livestock. Most of these professionals are tough people, and seldom exhibit mercy in case of predatory dogs. Some may simply sedate or paralyze the dog with drug filled shots or “quills””, but this may make your dog very sick and it may even die.
Watching Out for Predatory Signs
As mentioned earlier, you must start looking and watching out for predatory aggression and its signs! There are many ways a dog may exhibit predatory behavior, depending on its breed. Barking or growling is often commonly mistaken for predatory behavior, but it is not. Most commonly, a dog simply watches its prey intently. It may also silently stalk its prey, or want to round it up in a corner. You should know that dogs can get surprisingly clever and strong once their hunting instinct is evoked. If you are walking your dog on a leash, it may want to escape so breaking the leash and running off happens in such cases.
Prevention and Cure
Until and unless you have kept a dog purely for hunting or guarding purposes, it is not recommended to have a dog with higher preying instincts. This is an area which you should investigate before getting a dog so that you must be aware of the predatory aggression of different breeds. When you get a dog, there is a lot of work to be done with it, in order to avoid mishaps in the future. You have to remember that one way or the other you are the one who is going to be responsible for anything that a dog does. A hunting instinct in dogs is natural, so you must not try to curb it with corporal punishment. Here are some of precautionary measures to handle situations when the predatory nature of a dog takes over:
If your dog has developed a predatory nature already, then you may need to keep it leashed, and in a kennel most of the times. Even when you take it out for a walk, make sure, that the lease you are using is thick and strong, not easily breakable by a dog. This may seem like cruelty but it is actually the only way to protect livestock, people as well as other pets.
Behavior the dogs also depends on how well you train it. You must exercise a very good authority on your dog. Your dog should be trained well enough to back off at once when you command it to do so. When training your dog, do it in complete isolation so that your dog has his full attention on training. This may take hours a day, but it is worth the effort. Then using smaller preys, such as stray mice, rodents or squirrels, test how well your dog is trained, and whether it is trained enough to be allowed to go out.
Remember that even after your dog is trained and tamed, you cannot curb its hunting instinct completely. It may set itself on a prey, and even want to chase it. This cannot be avoided totally, but can be reverted. For example, you can use the principle of discipline through reward. This means that you should train your dog to come when you call it off from a prey and expect a good reward in return.